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Andrew R WynnWilliams

"Gate Keepers Choice" by Andrew R WynnWilliams

SciFi/Fantasy text 2 out of 7 by Andrew R WynnWilliams.      ←Previous - Next→
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This is part of a much larger whole. The larger whole has been tossed out though. The lack of a title (at one point it was just named after the character 'Dell') seemed to confuse some so I have given it a title. Let me know if it sucks.
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Captain Quine eyed the reserves he commanded at Selan's North Gate as they joked back and forth. His shoulder felt better and Goddess willing he would soon be back with the Xth. That pleasant thought was all that kept him from taking a whip to these toy soldiers to try and improve their attitude.

"Legionnaires," he yelled and then winced as the guards slouched to attention. "Today is market day gentlemen. You must at least look at the people passing through. I won't tell you again."

The guards eyed each other and then Quine. He groaned. "Don't watch me." Quine indicated the people bustling in and out of the gate on their morning business. "Watch them."

The guards scrambled to their posts on either side of the recently opened gate and began to glance at each person passing through. Quine bet himself they would lose focus again in less than ten minutes. He sighed and wandered partway up the road carefully examining the morning rush.

The crowd had begun to lessen when Quine noticed a carriage in the distance. He could not see a standard but knew it belonged to a noblewoman. "Damn! That's the last thing I need."

He jogged back to his post. "Shut the gate you fools, a procession is coming." Market morning too, someone wanted to attract attention.

The guards hustled to shut the gate and came to attention, five on either side of the road, crossbows across their shoulders. "Well done men," said Quine. "You might be mistaken for real soldiers."

The citizenry knew the ritual as well as he did and stood to the side of the road waiting for the gate to be reopened. Quine had a brief flash of irritation; the civilians responded as quickly as his guards did.

Quine then stood square in the middle of the road ready for Recognize or Challenge.

The crowd recognized the standard first and began to mutter. Quine began to worry when he saw what caused the excitement. The Guardian was bearing the device of the kidnapped princess. If he Challenged and someone could prove a right to bear the standard it could mean his head. If he Recognized and allowed an imposter through the gate it could also mean his head. He turned to examine the cavalcade for clues as to which choice to make.

The carriage was a fine one, filigreed and well sprung, but like many he had seen before. The honor guard was far from normal. Nomads. Not mercenaries, with a veneer of civilization, but savage men in leather armour and skins. Quine remembered the conscripts giggling at the gate moments earlier and wished once again that he had the Xth at his back.

He tried to examine the shield of the standard bearer. If some popinjay lordling was from a prestigious enough family he might have been granted the right to carry the princess's banner. Who knows? The carriage might hold a royal pet or something equally foolish. The shield revealed nothing. Even at a distance Quine could tell it had been covered with black cloth.

When the procession drew close enough for Quine to make out individuals, he began to worry even more. The standard bearer rode an enormous charger that highstepped and jerked on the reins. He wore not a fine cape over decorative show armour but a hooded cloak of untreated wool thrown back to reveal some of the finest South Kingdom steel Quine had seen; well used but well cared for. A longsword and a dented helmet hung with the shield on the saddle pommel. The man's head was shaved like a nomad's but the remaining hair was braided close to his skull in thin rows. This was no court fop, this was a warrior.

The standard bearer drew up in front of him and halted the cavalcade. He quickly scanned the guards then turned to face Quine. He was very young but Quine could read nothing in the sharp, gaunt features or blue eyes. Quine felt the hair stand up on the back of his neck.

Quine walked around to the right side of the charger. He was frightened; first time in years. The man on the horse said nothing, waiting for Challenge or Recognition. Quine realized the crowd had grown silent. He stalled for time.

"Please declare both your title and that of the carriage occupant?" Quine was relieved that his voice was both steady and respectful. The Guardian regarded Quine impassively for a moment then turned up to the standard. He then looked back down at Quine.

Quine remained silent for a moment before realizing he could stall no longer. He took a deep breath then spoke clearly and formally. "I, sir, recognize the standard and hereby Challenge your right to enter the city beneath it." Quine waited for the traditional response, a formal complaint against him on behalf of the carriage occupant.

The response was anything but traditional. Quine could not even swallow as he stared at the steppeknife held in front of his throat. The mysterious warrior had leaned far down out of his saddle, his arm was cocked and the blade was rock steady. The speed of the maneuver terrified him. There was no way Quine could step backward quickly enough to save himself. He pulled his eyes up from the blade to the cold blue ones gazing down from above.

The warrior spoke for the first time. "You have questioned my honor." His voice was quiet but easily heard. "You shall withdraw the Challenge or accept the consequences."

Quine glanced down to the blade and decided to accept the reprieve. Let someone else Challenge this one, he had already lost the game. Quine spoke very quietly, hoping his voice wouldn't carry too far through the silent crowd.

"I will withdraw the Challenge and issue Recognition of the princess and her Guardian."

The warrior nodded and straightened up in his saddle returning the steppeknife to its sheath down the center of his back.

"Uh...sir, who shall I announce as the princess' Guardian?"

The warrior looked over his shoulder at the carriage for a moment and then turned back and smiled. Even his eyes lit up. "They call me Kitten."

Quine shook his head in confusion as the procession passed through the gate. If that was a kitten he would hate to meet the cat.

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27 Oct 2002:-) Reinder W Langhout
grrrrr i do hate it to really get into a story and then see it end before it has even started....... Pretty nice writing, but then thats pretty logical reading ur cv on the main page.... BTW i'm studiing economics, economic teacher even... Any witty comments on that?

:-) Andrew R WynnWilliams replies: "witty comments about an economist? far from it ...(for every economist there is an equal and opposite economist)"
13 Mar 200345 Pippin
This is very nifty! The writer is my brother and has been keeping this a secret! I'm glad he is finally back at it! Many moons ago I got hooked on one of his stories, but it was never finished. I wanted to keep reading that one and I wanted to keep reading this one! I've read all five, when does the next one arrive?

:-) Andrew R WynnWilliams replies: "thanks Pip ... I plan to novelise keet ... it is the closest in my head to having a workable plot."
9 May 2003:-) Dylan Cline
Very good. I'm just now getting around to reading your stuff, and it is definatly worth reading. Great stuff here. I'll make a point to come back in a few days and read the rest of your stuff.


:-) Andrew R WynnWilliams replies: "Thank you Dylan ... glad you like it."
18 May 2003:-) Vicki "Kiddalee" Nemeth
This story's potential has not yet been reached. Polishing would help. I've noticed that you mention Quinn's name very often, and replacing it with the pronoun "he" a bit more often would help greatly. The story seems to be redundant, perhaps only because of the mentioning of that name so often.
Reformatting would help, too. You don't need to start a whole new paragraph every time someone talks, only a new line. Have you heard of the LineBreak tag? It looks like this:
. It would go nicely in the place of some of your

:-) Andrew R WynnWilliams replies: ".
Well, I'm not finished with your bookshelf and am glad to read the rest of your posted work.what great and comprehensive advice. Excellent ... and thanks.You are right on the pronouns thing. As to this being incomplete. You are right. it is a fragment and I don't intend to go back to it. It was fun to write though. (
I will remember that)"
19 May 2003:-) Vicki "Kiddalee" Nemeth
Gah! I just realized that the html worked in my last comment. I meant to say that the linebreak tag looks like this <br > minus the space, and it would go nicely in place of your <p >. Oops. Lolz.
24 May 200345 Joanne Hanrahan
Wow, that was good! If you tell me this is a work in progress I promise to check it regularly. Have you ever read any of the Night Watch books in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series? That's kind of what this reminded me of.

:-) Andrew R WynnWilliams replies: "thanks Joanne. This is not actually a piece I am working on any longer. It is the oldest piece here and the first piece I was proud enough of to keep. It may actually even predate discworld."
28 May 2003:-) Frances Monro
Excellent, excellent. 2 Roman legionaires? You give a wonderful character sketch here. Only one nitpick: "he knew the carriage belonged to a noblewoman"... Oh, and how did he know that? Couldn't it have been a nobleman? Or even some very rich merchant? At this point in the story?

:-) Andrew R WynnWilliams replies: "ah ... had I continued with the tale you were to learn later that the city has ritual processions ... the banner, the standard bearer, etc. He would recognise it pretty clearly - I should probably say procession or something though to make it a little clearer."
31 Oct 2003:-) Allison 'Violinagin' Dollar
I like this piece of story, especially how it ends "They call me kitten" Thats hillarious. And, like him, I'd like to meet the cat. Too bad about it being tossed. Just a bit of work and more chapters and it will be great! Guess I will have to use my imagination. FUN!

:-) Andrew R WynnWilliams replies: "thanks ... glad you like it. Others have enjoyed it and so I am looking at ways to revive it and create a longer tale ... perhaps working it in with other stuff I have written"
27 Dec 2003:-) Ben Cameron
I liked this story for its ending, the name was surprising, however, I don't like telling white lies when commenting - to men, it doesn't serve anyone's purpose.

1) I'm not sure what world you have created for your characters, but if it resembles the medieval ages, as funny as the name Kitten is, it doesn't seem that appropriate.
2) The basic premise behind this is excellent. The tension in the story builds up wonderfully till the knife is at his throat. Then it just stops. There is no climax, instead, we are told he caves in and we learn no truth, or even a hint of truth.

Again, I am only commenting because I like the story, but I still feel it is lacking the above. Even his death would provide a suitable ending and would at least tell us if the Guardian had rightfully or wronfully challenged. As before, these are only my interpretations of your story.

:-) Andrew R WynnWilliams replies: "thanks Ben ... and I tend to agree with you. This was part of a novel I was trying to write when I was much younger and more ambitious. It was kind of in the middle and hence its lack of context (which was the primary point of confusion for you). It was the only bit of that novel I saved because from a prose perspective it came out very well. It is indeed a fragment ... but a fragment I am proud of. So thanks for your comments ... they were spot on and are indeed appreciated. "
13 Jan 2007:-) LL JJ
Nice beginning, too bad you tossed out the larger whole. Dell has some interestingly funny parts to it. Actually made me laugh. Was wondering why it is named Dell though.

:-) Andrew R WynnWilliams replies: "thanks Lyn, I appreciate the comment. I find humour to be very difficult to write. (if you want funny you need to see Alyssa George's stuff). As to the name - many of my pieces are parts of larger works that exist only in my head. Some of the pieces have companion pieces that i have never posted and most of them have no title. For those ones I track them on my computer through the first name of the main character ... Clifford, Keet ... and Dell (the kid on the horse in this story).thanks again ... and I love the email address 'Dark Battle Angel' ... sounds like yugi-oh card."
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'Gate Keepers Choice':
 • Created by: :-) Andrew R WynnWilliams
 • Copyright: ©Andrew R WynnWilliams. All rights reserved!

 • Keywords: Confrontation, Gate, Nomad, Warrior
 • Categories: Fights, Duels, Battles, Royalty, Kings, Princes, Princesses, etc, Warrior, Fighter, Mercenary, Knights, Paladins
 • Views: 496

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